Classic Northwest Passage and Baffin Island (Akademik Ioffe)

Classic Northwest Passage and Baffin Island (Akademik Ioffe)

From USD $9,995


This iconic voyage explores Canada’s remote Northwest Passage and the stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline. We enjoy excellent wildlife encounters, Inuit community visits, exciting navigation, hikes on shore and superb photographic opportunities along the way.

We follow in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, exploring the archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. This is the home of the polar bear, Muskox, caribou and walrus and we journey through the wild Canadian north aboard our celebrated ice-rated expedition ship

Wildlife is a major draw card of our expedition, but there is plenty of historical interest and the stories of that ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin more than 170 years ago is central to our voyage. Franklin made his last heroic foray into the Arctic in 1845 with two ships and 129 men, never to be heard from again. The fate of the expedition remained a mystery – until September 2014 – when one of the vessels, HMS Erebus, was discovered in a remarkable state of preservation in the frigid waters of Victoria Strait.

The find is undoubtedly one of the great archaeological discoveries of the last 100 years and has been likened to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. This is small ship expedition cruising at its best.

Please note: this voyage starts from Edmonton on a special charter flight. The voyage ends with a charter flight to Ottawa. Flights are not included in your rate.

Trip Name
Classic Northwest Passage and Baffin Island (Akademik Ioffe)
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 117 metres Passenger Capacity: 96 Built: 1989 Stability and Strength. Our ship was purpose built to conduct sensitive hydro-acoustic research and science in the polar regions. The original design brief dictated that the vessel offers a very high level of stability. This is achieved through a sophisticated internal trimming system, controlled via a series of gyroscopic sensors around the vessel. This stability feature is something you will greatly appreciate should you encounter less than ideal sailing conditions. Maneuverable, Quiet and Fast. With both bow and stern thrusters and twin reversible propellers, the ship can spin on its own axis – greatly assisting embarkation of the zodiacs in windy conditions. You will notice there is little – if any – ambient noise or vibration, which makes for a quiet ship. The ship is fast, with a top speed of 14.5 knots in open water. Unmatched stability, coupled with superior speed allows for more time at your destination (rather than ‘at sea’) and more flexibility with itinerary planning – a critical factor in polar waters where ice and weather conditions sometimes dictate our daily itinerary. Superb Design and Layout. Throughout the ship there are spaces ideally suited to every need. Spacious outer decks provide 360 degree views of the stunning polar landscapes – as well as a great place for an outdoor barbecue, which usually happens once on every voyage. Inside there are comfortable presentation spaces for lectures and film screenings and there’s a multimedia computer lab with several large screen workstations where guests can download and back up photos. Six Different Cabin Categories. All cabins feature outside windows allowing ample natural light to filter in. Cabins all have lower berths (some triple share cabins have one upper/lower bunk scenario and feature port holes). Akademik Ioffe carries a maximum of just 96 guests – making for true, small-ship expedition cruising. This is particularly important in Antarctica where visitor guidelines dictate that no more than 100 people can be on shore at any one time. We fall under this limit and that equals maximum time ashore at all locations. Ships carrying more than 100 guests compromise your time ashore. Enjoy Great Dining? So do we. The exciting schedule of onshore excursions, zodiac cruises and onboard activities are guaranteed to work up a serious appetite. Although the ship operates in some of the most remote locations in the world, you can expect an exceptional variety of tasty meals, prepared by a team of professional international chefs. Breakfasts are usually buffet style. Lunches offer a great choice of light meals - as well as more substantial options for those who are hungry - and each evening there is a hearty three-course meal offering both variety and choice. There’s also an excellent wine list featuring a range of international wines. You can get a cup of tea or coffee at any time of the day or night and we always offer afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits. Guests with dietary restrictions or special meal requirements are also well catered for. Join us on the Bridge. There is an open-bridge policy and guests are welcome to meet the navigating crew at virtually any time of day; there’s always something to learn from the officers on watch and the bridge is one of the best places on the ship for spotting whales and sea birds. Operational Safety. There are no compromises here. The expedition staff and crew onboard Akademik Ioffe have the deepest respect for changeable weather in the polar regions and the varying sea and ice conditions. That respect is apparent in every decision made throughout the voyage. The ship carries the most extensive inventory of safety equipment on all excursions and require leaders to undergo vigorous and effective safety training programs. Your expedition team are well prepared, so you can relax and enjoy your voyage. Relax — You're on Holiday. The ship also features a Finnish dry-heat sauna, a plunge pool, a hot water Jacuzzi, a small gymnasium and day spa with massage therapist. An expedition gear package is included. An expedition cruise requires a fair bit of planning and some special items of clothing and equipment are needed. You will have use of an expedition wet weather gear package free of charge, which includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants as well as insulated, comfortable rubber boots designed for extended walking. A set of expedition binoculars and a walking pole are also available for the duration of your voyage. This saves you buying expensive items you may only ever use once and eliminates the need to carry such cumbersome gear all the way to the ship. If you do have your own gear, of course you are welcome to bring it. Make sure it is wind and waterproof. 


We depart Edmonton this morning on our special charter flightto Cambridge Bay. Located on the southern shores of VictoriaIsland, today it is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing.Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board ourexpedition ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabinsand exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellowpassengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcomecocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
As we chart a course into the Northwest Passage, our onboard presentation series begins, and the legend of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ starts to unravel. We aim to visit Victory Point, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus & the HMS Terror.
This morning we arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore ofPrince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the NorthwestPassage we hope to encounter one of the most remarkablewildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polarbears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, often caughtin the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay during low tide.It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whaleskeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!
Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait – a channelseparating northerly Somerset Island from continental NorthAmerica. The aim is to enter at slack tide if possible, in orderto avoid a current that roars through the passage at more thanseven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in thisstrait provides an abundant food source for marine mammalsand we keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded sealsand even polar bears. The skill of the Captain, Officers andcapabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this excitingday of Arctic navigation. The historic site of Fort Ross, locatedat the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’sBay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeologicalsites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years ofhabitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journeythrough the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir JohnFranklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winterin 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking anincredible series of search expeditions that last almost threedecades. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the gravemarkers on a remote windswept beach, gives one pause towonder on the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneeringexplorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozenlandscape. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and formany it will be the defining moment of our expedition.
Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. We plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, on Devon Island. Musk ox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.
We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park tower surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). We are welcomed ashore and visit the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional craft is on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters. One past guest was known to liken Gibbs Fjord to a 'scene from a Lord of the Rings' - it's hard to disagree!
Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is an important summer habitatand feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. Theseremarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with thecrown of their head. The area also includes a shallow shelf atthe entrance to the bay that provides protection for bowheadsfrom predatory orca whales. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canadageese, snow geese and narwhal are also found in and aroundthe area.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. This location offersterrific hiking opportunities and we have a number of greatroutes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike,gaining some real elevation and offering wonderful views ofour surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous optionalong the shoreline. The sheltered waters of the fjord provide thekayakers with great conditions for paddling.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gatewayto Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situatedbetween the mountains and the sea. This remote town isknown for its arts and crafts and a visit to the local art galleryis a highlight. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has awonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thuleand of the modern Inuit.
Monumental Island is a final highlight and a known location for walrus. We explore by Zodiac along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. We sometimes encounter polar bears in this vicinity. This evening we celebrate with a special dinner and reflect on one our voyage across the top of the remote Canadian Arctic.
By morning we are anchored off the beach from Iqaluit – the largest community on Baffin Island. We are transferred to the airport and board our flight to Ottawa where our journey comes to an end. A transfer to a downtown location is provided.
Day 14 - Please Note:
Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at thetime of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leadercontinually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weatherand ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a largenumber of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal. A flexibleapproach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $9,995Triple Share
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $11,795Twin Semi Private
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $13,995Twin Private
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $15,295Superior
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $16,795Shakleton Suite
20-08-201901-09-2019USD $18,695One Ocean Suite
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $17,395Shakleton Suite
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $19,395One Ocean Suite
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $10,395Triple Share
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $12,295Twin Semi Private
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $14,595Twin Private
26-08-202007-09-2020USD $15,895Superior


    • Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, zodiac cruising and from the ship
    • Historic locations of early Arctic exploration
    • Cultural interaction and understanding through visits to remote Inuit communities
    • Best possibility to observe the majestic Aurora Borealis
    • Northern Lights!
    • On this trip: Zodiac excursions, Onshore hiking options, Wildlife observation, Photographer in Residence, Sea kayaking available, Whale watching, Inuit community visits, Educational presentations, Active Cruising & Wellness